This volume on melodrama, the most traditional of genres, was born on
the Internet. Daily e-schmoozing about our favorite movies eventually
led to academic questions about the peculiarities of Russian melodrama.
We solicited answers from our other Webmates and, instead of hold-
ing a conference, came together @style. Fear not, though, that tech-
nology rationalized relations and factored out feelings. The Web turned
out to have the same fundamental structure as melodrama, a crisscross
of private and public concerns, coincidental twists of fate, some excess
emotions, and several crossed paths.
We thank all of those who deepened our appreciation of Russian
melodrama. There would never have been a book in the first place if not
for two filmmakers who inspired our passion for melodrama, Evgeny
Bauer and Douglas Sirk, and two actresses who made it unforgettable,
Vera Kholodnaia and Dorothy Malone.
Our contributors inspired us with their creative answers to our origi-
nal questions, and they did so with extraordinary efficiency and good
cheer.We are sincerely appreciative of the institutions that have come to
respect the importance of popular culture in academics and supported
our research: the International Research and Exchanges Board (irex),
the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, and the University
of Hawai‘i and the University of Texas Faculty Development Programs.
In Honolulu, Linda Engelberg actively collected sources of prerevolu-
tionary popular culture, especially movie melodramas, and Matthew
and Michael Kunihara assisted with the illustrations. In Austin, the Uni-
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